My view from the finish line
In December, my husband Chris ran the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's Marathon.
While he was running all over the city, I was volunteering at the finish line at AutoZone Park, giving out space blankets and medals and generally helping out. The greatest part was that I was there when Chris came across the finish line, and I got to "medal" him.
After spending time at the 5K, half marathon and full marathon finish lines, I learned some lessons.
1. You can not determine a person's running ability based on weight, height, gender, creed, religion or color. I saw all kinds of people come across those finish lines, and the length of the race did not correlate with any of the above-mentioned factors. Pregnant women in the 5K, dads with kids in backpacks in the half marathon and hefty men in the full. Tall lanky men stumbling in the half and petite women throwing up after the 5K.
2. Most people are very generous. There I was just standing around at the finish line doing minimal labor, and people who had run for miles and miles and raised money for St. Jude were thanking me for my time. It was consistently amazing and reaffirming that most people are inherently good.
3. Marathons are emotional events. Now for obvious reasons, the St. Jude marathon is especially emotional. People are wearing t-shirts in memory and in honor of patients. Some families are running in thanks and others in pain. There's no getting away from that. However, I think marathons in general are emotional. I think it's something your body seeps into after hours of running. At the full marathon finish line, I medaled a girl, probably about my age, and she was weeping. I told her congratulations and asked if she needed help. She said she had no family there, and she asked me for a hug. I wrapped my arms around her and held her for several minutes while she cried. She said it was her first marathon. I continued to congratulate her and tell her how proud she should feel of her accomplishment. Marathons are emotional.
4. Marathons make you delusional. Not all, but a whole lot, of people coming across the finish line, mostly from the full marathon, were completely delusional for several moments. Their minds just weren't there. I'm sure it's a side effect of the places your mind has to go when you're running for more than 20 miles. I'm sure it takes it a bit of time to get back to reality. But seriously, marathons make you delusional. I had one person thank me for the pillow when it was clearly a big long blanket. One person kept running at full speed through the finish line and when he reached the water station, a true dead end, he stopped and looked completely confused. I think he couldn't tell his body to stop running. Another person, whom I have known for some time, didn't recognize me when I medaled them, gave them a blanket and then walked them to the water station. Thankfully, Chris recognized me immediately. That would have been a bummer. Thankfully marathons don't make you forget your spouse.
5. Marathons make you sweat. I know this is an obvious one, but after putting medals around runners' necks and wrapping space blankets around runners' shoulders for several hours, I was covered in other people's sweat. Which is grosser than your own sweat. It's just a fact.